Chess and brain boosting music

Chess and brain boosting music

Apr 12, 2018, 3:38 AM |

Can music boost chess?

In theory, yes. Has to be the right type of music though. It's no secret that certain types of music can bring out your best in certain situations. It's long been said that having a bit of classical music in the background can enhance brain power when say, writing or revising. Not everyone agrees not so surprisingly, but many do subscribe to this 'Mozart effect'.

I'm no expert on the underlying (neuro)science, but I understand that having the right kind of music/ sounds in the background can engage a part of your brain that will then make it less likely for your thoughts to stray; this, in turn, may then help you to better concentrate.   


What doesn't work?

For me, any lyrical music is a no-no. I struggle as it is to concentrate - but, chess is one of the few domains where I'm able to sustain my focus for hours on end. What I've found, however, is if I'm playing the kind of music that might give me more energy when I'm working out - say:


...I'm then triggered to ponder the lyrical wizardry on display. This will reliably spark a diverging multitude of thoughts and ideas and before I know it, I've squandered precious mental processing, causing my chess play to dip, dip, dip.

Does one size fit all?

Obviously not. We're all human, but we each have a unique meaty, computer of mind-boggling complexity floating within our thick skulls. Broadly speaking we have 'normal' folks who conform to what is understood to be typical brain cognition. Then there are 'atypical' folks whose brains operate a little differently to the status quo. In this category, you can find well-worn labels such as Autism (ASD), ADHD and Dyslexia. Different brains have different needs in terms of what may bring the best out of them. In short, what works and what doesn't work for me, may not necessarily apply to you.


Chess, like most endeavours in life, requires that you try different approaches in order to find out what works best for you. At the moment, I find the following gems can work a little magic.